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Nature Journaling


What To Rub?

Navigate Rubbing & Frottage
Frottage and Chance
Charla Puryear

What to Rub

Many hard surfaces in nature have a three dimensional quality, peaks and valleys. Some are fragile; rubbing needs to be a gentle process, not a muscular feat. Start with small obvious items such as coins and paper clips to get a feel for rubbing. Then turn to such readily available surfaces as the backs of tree leaves. Leaves are easily carried, but many rubbable surfaces, such as bark and large stones, must be rubbed in place, outdoors. If you collect other surfaces to the classroom, return them when rubbing is complete. This is a lesson for kids in caring for Earth, and in sharing nature with others.

Note: Many strong natural surfaces are already in students' homes, gathering dust. Ask students to bring in driftwood and shells. Scrimshaw as well, and cameos.

Some Surfaces in Nature for Rubbings

Fern spore capsules on the back of fronds can make fine rubbings, if gently done.
Tree bark can offer amazing features,
such as smiles
beaver tooth carved oakwood
with care, dried flat leaves can be rubbed
seashells such as scallops
make fine rubbings
hickory bark
eroded rock photo © Charla Puryear
ancient sea life fossils in limestone
Many conifer cones can be rubbed
knots in weathered wood produce eyes to rub--driftwood works well
both inner and outer bark of birch
have fine patterns to rub
Larva trails on the inside of dead tree bark mirror the patterns on the trunk surface

lilypads are strongly veined, but like all aquatic leaves are fragile. Dry in newspapers with weights on top. Try just a quarter section of such huge leaves.
lilypad leaves are adapted to survive the wind with deeply ribbed leaves.
Arrowhead leaves, if dried flat,
rub well on the back side
oaks heal branch scars in circles
aspens and cottonwoods heal twig scars in mandala patterns
sutures in a weathered deer skull
bark of ponderosa pine
weathered root surface
of ancient pinon pine
Coyote carved into dead pine
by artistic beetle larvae
figure carved by artistic beetle larvae
whorls in old wood,painted by algae


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